News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle, NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release
Friday, August 28, 1998
Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 273-4590



WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 28, 1998) — The U.S. Sentencing Commission announced today the resignation of its Chairman, Judge Richard P. Conaboy, effective October 31, 1998. The Chairman’s decision allows the President to appoint a new, full slate of commissioners to the seven- panel Commission.

“While my term does not officially expire until October 31, 1999, I am convinced that it would be most appropriate for the President to designate a new chairman at the same time that six new members will be joining the Commission,” said Chairman Conaboy. “My leaving at this juncture ultimately is in the best interests of the Commission. Both sentencing policy and the operation of the Commission are better served if the incoming commissioners are accompanied by a new chairman. Otherwise, the very important work of the Commission is disrupted by my departure a year or so into the new commissioners’ terms.”

The seven-member commission currently has three vacancies. Three other commissioners, whose terms have expired, continue to sit on “hold-over” status; they may serve until new appointments are made, but no later than the end of the current congressional session. U.S. sentencing commissioners are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and serve six-year terms. At least three of the commissioners must be federal judges and no more than four may belong to the same political party.

“My only regret is that I won’t be working as closely with so many people I have come to respect and admire. I have no regrets about the work we have accomplished,” said Chairman Conaboy. “In fact, I leave with the satisfaction that we have done a very good job in spite of Commission vacancies. I am confident that our talented staff will continue to work efficiently and effectively with the incoming members. I know that the staff stands ready to assist the new commissioners in every way possible.” >P>By the time Judge Conaboy was confirmed as Chairman on October 6, 1994, the federal sentencing guidelines had been in effect for seven years and the Sentencing Commission had entered a new era of guideline refinement and revision. While the primary focus of the early Commission had been to create the sentencing guidelines, Chairman Conaboy recognized that the future work lay not just in continued guideline refinement but in building better communication, cooperation, and coordination with other key decisionmakers in the criminal justice system.

Toward that end, Judge Conaboy regularly traveled across the country, personally meeting with district court judges to listen to them about ways in which the federal sentencing process might be improved. He also continued the extensive training the Commission provides to judges, probation officers, and prosecutors, and expanded the training provided the defense bar. As a result of the Chairman’s goal to improve outreach, the Commission also developed a comprehensive World Wide Web site which continues to grow in popularity. Under his leadership, the Commission this year is working “hand in glove” with key groups in the criminal justice field to revise sentencing guidelines for economic crimes.

During his tenure, Chairman Conaboy also oversaw: (1) an assessment and reorganization of the way in which the Commission operates; (2) a national symposium on the impact of the organizational sentencing guidelines; and (3) numerous studies pertaining to sentencing and the guidelines (e.g., studies on just punishment and substantial assistance to authorities).

Chairman Conaboy also serves as U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Appointed to the court by President Carter in 1979, he became Chief Judge in 1989 and took senior status in 1992. Chairman Conaboy chaired the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing from 1977 to 1980. He also served as Chairman of the Pennsylvania Joint Council on Criminal Justice, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges, and Vice Chairman of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Justice Commission.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the Judicial Branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines, which went into effect November 1, 1987, structure the courts’ sentencing discretion to ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive a similar sentence.

United States Sentencing Commission